Information for scientists

The museum’s scientific collections are available for research.

Bird Collection

  • Includes more than 113,000 specimens representing about 4,000 species from around the world, with strong collections of Philippine and Central and South American birds.
  • Specimens include: study skins, skeletons, spread wings and eggs.
  • A small tissue collection is available for studying DNA, containing samples from eastern North American taxa.
  • About 140 taxa are in the type collection.
  • Extinct species are also represented.
  • Among the collections are those of George Miksch Sutton, Allan R. Phillips, Olin S. Pettingill, T.D. Burleigh, D.S. Rabor, M. Hachisuka, Vivien Hewitt, and Sibley’s Yale-Peabody Expedition.
  • The archive contains field notes and other documentation from some of these collectors.

The Bird Department staff is also responsible for the mammal collection. We do not have collections of reptiles, amphibians, or fishes.

Further information about the collection and requests for data or loans should be directed to Matthew Halley, Interim Curator of Birds.

Mollusk Collection

  • Consists of more than 2 million specimens, making it the tenth largest collection in North America. The 250,000 lots, of which 220,000 are catalogued, represent more than 18,000 species.
  • Worldwide in scope and covering all seven living classes of mollusks, holdings comprise marine Gastropoda (50%), land and freshwater Gastropoda (25%), marine Bivalvia (15%), and freshwater Bivalvia (5%).
  • The mollusk collection is primarily dry shells, with some alcohol preserved cephalopod specimens. Most specimens are recent; however, there is some Cenozoic fossil material.
  • The type collection contains more than 1,200 lots. Type catalogs listing all molluscan type specimens (except Pulmonata) are available in Nemouria issues 36 and 41.
  • The collection continues to grow through research activities of staff and donations of scientifically significant specimens.

For further information about our holdings, please contact Mollusks Collection Manager Alex Kittle.

Search the collections

The bird skin, skeleton, and tissue collections are fully databased and searchable online through the iDigBio, VertNet and GBIF.org. The mollusk collection is digitized on iDigBio and InvertEBase.

Using the collections

Researchers requesting destructive samples should review our Destructive Sampling Policy for instructions on how to request samples and conditions that apply.